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De Klerk remembers Thatcher for ‘significant impact’

Former president FW de Klerk on Tuesday said he was honoured to have been invited to London to attend the funeral of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

"I am honoured to have had Margaret Thatcher as a friend," De Klerk said in a statement.

"I am honoured to have been invited to London by the British government and the Thatcher family to attend the funeral of Baroness Thatcher."

De Klerk would attend Thatcher's funeral on Wednesday.

The ceremony would be attended by a high-profile guest list headed by Queen Elizabeth II, and set to include a host of international political figures and celebrities.

Thatcher died of a stroke on April 8, at the age of 87.

De Klerk said Thatcher would be remembered as a leader whose policies and approach had a significant impact on politics throughout the world.

"Baroness Thatcher played a constructive role in promoting evolutionary change in South Africa throughout her period as prime minister.

"She was a steadfast critic of apartheid and consistently urged the South African government to release Nelson Mandela and to embark on fundamental constitutional change."

He said she had a much better grasp of the complexities and geo-strategic realities of South Africa than many of her contemporaries and realised there would be no peaceful solution to South Africa's problems unless the reasonable concerns of the citizens were taken into consideration.

De Klerk said after her retirement in 1993, upon a visit to South Africa, he had bestowed her with the Order of Good Hope, then the highest honour that could be awarded to a non-South African. "I can think of no one who was more deserving of such recognition," he said. – Sapa

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Sapa
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